All dietary fats are not created equal. Some types of fats have been linked to ailments like heart disease and diabetes, while others, like those often found in plants and fish, have well documented health benefits.
So why do our bodies respond so destructively to some fats but not others?
A new hypothesis described in latest issue of The Quarterly Review of Biologysuggests the answer may lie in how different fats interact with the microbes in our guts. According to researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northwestern University, some fats may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive system. Our bodies have evolved to recognize those fats and launch an immune response to preempt the impeding changes in harmful bacteria. The result is low-levelinflammation that, over the long term, causes chronic disease.
“Although the inflammatory effects of [fats] are well documented, it is less well appreciated that they also influence bacterial survival and proliferation in the gastrointestinal tract,” write the researchers, led by Joe Alcock, of the University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine and VA Medical Center.
Some fats – mostly unsaturated fats – actually have strong antimicrobial properties. They react chemically with bacterial cell membranes, weakening them. “If you expose unsaturated fats on bacteria, the bacteria have a tendency to lyse. The combination of long chain unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and innate host defenses like gastric acid and antimicrobial peptides, is particularly lethal to pathogenic bacteria,” Alcock said. Saturated fats on the other hand generally lack those antimicrobial properties, and in fact can provide a carbon source that bacteria need to grow and flourish….
- Saturated Fats encourage the growth and invasiveness of harmful microbiota: Unsaturated fats – actually have strong antimicrobial properties (engineeringevil.com)
- Why Some Fats May Cause Heart Disease (personalliberty.com)
While I am a coffee lover, presently the indulgence is only 2 cups a day.
Came across 2 items recently that have reinforced why I limit my intake.
In my humble opinion, it really is scientifically challenging to say if coffee is good or bad because there are so many chemicals in coffee, each with associated side effects…
10 Reasons to Quit Your Coffee! (by Mark Hyman, MD at HuffPost Healthy Living, 7/1/12)
(via Amy Croan, MPH who I follow on Twitter. She authors the blog To Your Health..).
While there are many controversies about coffee’s role in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease to breast cancer, I’m mostly interested in the conversation relating to its effect on blood sugar metabolism. If you have read my latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution, then you already know how insulin resistance and inflammation are at the core of modern-day chronic diseases….
Here are 10 reasons why:
- The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.
- Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.
- Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
- The helpful chlorogenic acids that may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels — an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which tends to be elevated in diabesity.
- The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).
- Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…
- Associative addictions trend with coffee — who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal than a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!
- 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!
- Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver.
- Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.
As long as news keeps cranking coffee benefit stories, we’ll keep commenting on them (HealthNewsReview.org*** 7/2/2012)
CAFFEINE LINKED TO LOWER SKIN CANCER RISK – ABC NEWS
Addendum on July 4:
None of these stories mentioned anything about:
- this was an observational study
- it showed a statistical association – not cause-and-effect
And the Fox and CNN stories didn’t have any independent perspective – only the researcher/author touting the study’s importance.
But the sun shines on HealthDay today because it included this simple and effective reminder:
“While the study uncovered an association between greater caffeine consumption and reduced risk of basal cell cancer, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.”
As always, we remind journalists and news consumers of our primer: Does The Language Fit The Evidence? – Association Versus Causation
Here are just some of our past blog posts about news coverage of supposed health benefits of coffee:
**HealthNewsReview.org provides independent reviews of health stories which are based on high journalism standards of accuracy, completeness and balance. (See their toolkit for tips on how to understand studies, evaluate claims, analyze news coverage, and more)
- Caffeinated Coffee May Lead to Vison Loss (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Drinking Coffee: More Good Than Harm? (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Does Caffeine Help You Live Longer? (everydayhealth.com)
- Are there health benefits in consuming coffee? (thehindu.com)
- Grounds for celebration (smh.com.au)
- Coffee gets better and better (toledoblade.com)
- Three daily cups of caffeinated coffee tied to 17% drop in risk for common skin cancer (cbsnews.com)
- Coffee could cut skin cancer risk (thechart.blogs.cnn.com)
- The Potential Cancer-Fighting Benefit Of Coffee (huffingtonpost.com)
- Caffeine Linked To Lower Skin Cancer Risk (science.slashdot.org)
- Caffeine may reduce risk of skin cancer: report (news.yahoo.com)
- The Case for Coffee: All the Latest Research to Defend Your Caffeine Addiction, in One Place (theatlantic.com)
- Bust out the coffee and chocolate – caffeine may help prevent skin cancer (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Coffee, Tea and Bad Conduct (nlm.nih.gov)
- Coffee drinkers reassured about health risks (cbc.ca)
- FAQ about coffee, longevity, sugar and stupidity. And also vampires. (fox13now.com)
- Lowcountry Blend can enhance your workout! (sunocobeanteam.wordpress.com)
- The Blog Post That Starbucks Doesn’t Want You to Read (onehealthygirl.com)
- HealthWise: Why energy drinks starve your brain (gatestec.wordpress.com)
- Kick the Caffeine Craving (massageenvy.com)
- Coffee pros and cons (therealfoodchannel.com)
- 10 Coffee Myths You Think Are True (gabrielcatalano.com)
An Opportunity to Identify Diabetes, Hypertension, and Other Chronic Diseases
Nearly 20 million Americans annually visit a dentist but not a general healthcare provider, according to an NYU study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.
The study, conducted by a nursing-dental research team at NYU, is the first of its kind to determine the proportion of Americans who are seen annually by a dentist but not by a general healthcare provider.
This finding suggests dentists can play a crucial role as health care practitioners in the front-line defense of identifying systemic disease which would otherwise go undetected in a significant portion of the population, say the researchers.
“For these and other individuals, dental professionals are in a key position to assess and detect oral signs and symptoms of systemic health disorders that may otherwise go unnoticed, and to refer patients for follow-up care,” said Dr. Shiela Strauss, an associate professor of nursing at the NYU College of Nursing and co-director of the statistics and data management core for NYU’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry.
During the course of a routine dental examination, dentists and dental hygienists, as trained healthcare providers, can take a patient’s health history, check blood pressure, and use direct clinical observation and X-rays to detect risk for systemic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. ……
- Barbers: Cut, Shave, Lower Your Blood Pressure (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Dentists Could Screen 20 Million Americans For Chronic Physical Illnesses (medicalnewstoday.com)
- NYU study concludes that dentists could screen 20 million Americans for chronic physical illnesses (eurekalert.org)
- Dentists could screen 20 million Americans for chronic physical illnesses: study (medicalxpress.com)
- Dentists Could Fill Gap in Health Care (nlm.nih.gov)
This four-part Series critically examines what we know about the global obesity pandemic: its drivers, its economic and health burden, the physiology behind weight control and maintenance, and what science tells us about the kind of actions that are needed to change our obesogenic environment and reverse the current tsunami of risk factors for chronic diseases in future generations. …Series Papers**The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environmentsBoyd A Swinburn, Gary Sacks, Kevin D Hall, Klim McPherson, Diane T Finegood, Marjory L Moodie, Steven L GortmakerHealth and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UKY Claire Wang, Klim McPherson, Tim Marsh, Steven L Gortmaker, Martin BrownQuantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweightKevin D Hall, Gary Sacks, Dhruva Chandramohan, Carson C Chow, Y Claire Wang, Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A SwinburnChanging the future of obesity: science, policy, and actionSteven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn, David Levy, Rob Carter, Patricia L Mabry, Diane T Finegood, Terry Huang, Tim Marsh, Marjory L Moodie
- Half of UK men could be obese by 2030 (guardian.co.uk)
- Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic (eurekalert.org)
- The diabetes pandemic: 1 in 4 US adults now has diabetes (casesblog.blogspot.com)
- Obesity deterrents by governments called for (cbc.ca)
- Shocking report says half of Americans will be obese by 2030 (cbsnews.com)
A new study by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan suggests that mobile phones could help low-income patients across the globe manage diabetes and other chronic diseases. ..
…For this study, researchers took advantage of the broad penetration of cell phones in Latin America and paired them with low-cost internet-based phone calls. The service used a cloud computing approach so that the program can be provided from a central location to low income countries around the globe that lack a strong technological infrastructure.
To test the service, the researchers enrolled patients with diabetes from a clinic in a semi-rural area of Honduras. Patients received weekly, automated, interactive phone calls and overwhelmingly reported that the program helped them to improve their diabetes management and general health.
Over the six-week study, researchers saw a clinically important improvement in patients’ hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood sugar control. The results are forthcoming in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. ….
On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology….
..by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”….
…The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose….
..If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them….
This long article goes on to explain how it is believed that an excessive sugar intake leads to fatty livers and accompanying metabolic syndrome. The body, in its inability to use naturally produced insulin, sets the stage for diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
Related resources and articles
- Sugar and Health: Interview with UCSF professor Robert Lustig (kqed.org)
- High-fructose corn syrup: What are the health concerns? (Mayo Health)
- Dietary, lifestyle changes can significantly reduce triglycerides (American Heart Association)
- Sugar-sweetened drinks associated with higher blood pressure (American Heart Association)
- Does high-fructose corn syrup have the same affect on the body as regular sugar? (Medpedia answers)
Proteomics Research Heading Towards Personalized Treatments For Cancer, Diabetes And Inflammatory Diseases
NeoProteomics Inc., a biomarker development and software company, has secured an exclusive option agreement with Case Western Reserve University. The deal has potential to enhance various forms of treatment of cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases. Proteomics is the scientific next step in vital research of protein structures of biological systems. NeoProteomics, founded in 2006 in Cleveland near Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine, focuses on biomarker identification and validation and seeks to spearhead the development of unique and improved analysis tools…..
- Researchers identify new biomarker for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease (eurekalert.org)
New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that a gene called CMAH has been lost during the course of recent evolution, and may lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in humans
From the February 25 2011 Eureka news alert
As if the recent prediction that half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by the year 2020 isn’t alarming enough, a new genetic discovery published online in the FASEB Journal. *** provides a disturbing explanation as to why: we took an evolutionary “wrong turn.” In the research report, scientists show that human evolution leading to the loss of function in a gene called “CMAH” may make humans more prone to obesity and diabetes than other mammals.
“Diabetes is estimated to affect over 25 million individuals in the U.S., and 285 million people worldwide,” said Jane J. Kim, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA. “Our study for the first time links human-specific sialic acid changes to insulin and glucose metabolism and therefore opens up a new perspective in understanding the causes of diabetes.”
In this study, which is the first to examine the effect of a human-specific CMAH genetic mutation in obesity-related metabolism and diabetes, Kim and colleagues show that the loss of CMAH’s function contributes to the failure of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in overweight humans, which is known to be a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. This gene encodes for an enzyme present in all mammalian species except for humans and adds a single oxygen atom to sialic acids, which are sugars that coat the cell surface.
To make their discovery, the researchers used two groups of mice. The first group had the same mutant CMAH gene found in humans. These mice demonstrated that the CMAH enzyme was inactive and could not produce a sialic acid type called NeuSGc at the cell surface. The second group had a normal CMAH gene. When exposed to a high fat diet, both sets of mice developed insulin resistance as a result of their obesity. Pancreatic beta cell failure, however, occurred only in the CMAH mutant mice that lacked NeuSGc, resulting in a decreased insulin production, which then further impaired blood glucose level control. This discovery may enhance scientific understanding of why humans may be particularly prone to develop type 2 diabetes. Results may also suggest that conventional animal models may not accurately mirror the human situation.
“The diabetes discovery is an important advance in its own right. It tells us a lot about what goes wrong in diabetes, and where to aim with new treatments,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “but its implications for human evolution are even greater. If this enzyme is unique to humans, it must also have given us a survival advantage over earlier species. Now the challenge is to find the function of CMAH in defending us against microbes or environmental stress or both. This evolutionary science explains how we can win some and lose some, to keep our species ahead of the extinction curve.”
Related articles and Web sites
- Food Processing and Obesity (education.com)
- How Can an Unhealthy Diet Cause Diabetes? (brighthub.com)
- Diabetes (MedlinePlus) has links to overviews, basic information, health check tools, research findings, reference materials, and more
County-Level Map for Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity, 2008
Estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Americans who live in parts of Appalachia and the South are the least likely to be physically active in their leisure time, and residents who are most likely to be active in their free time are from the West
Coast, Colorado, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast.
The 2004-2008 estimates, posted online at http://cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/inactivity.htm provide county-level estimates for leisure-time physical inactivity for all U.S.